Secular trends in parent-reported television viewing among children in the United States, 2001–2012

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Abstract

Objective

Examine trends in parent-reported television (TV) viewing among preschoolers (2–5 years) and children (6–11 years) between 2001 and 2012.

Methods

Data from the 2001–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were used. The analytic sample included 5724 preschoolers and 7104 children. Parent proxy of TV viewing at each of the six 2-year cycles was assessed.

Results

Statistically significant decreases in mean TV viewing between 2001 and 2012 were observed for preschoolers of nearly all gender, race-ethnicity and poverty combinations (exception of Mexican American boys), with the largest decrease occurring among non-Hispanic white boys (29% decrease; 2.24 h/day in 2001–2002 to 1.59 h/day in 2011–2012; P = .01). There was evidence of progressive decrease in mean TV viewing among children, but not to the extent that occurred among the preschool population. Across the six respective cycles for the entire preschool sample, the proportion watching <2 h/day of TV was: 34.9, 34.2, 43.9, 43.4, 39.1 and 49.2 (Ptrend < .001). For children, the respective proportions were: 32.9, 25.2, 38.2, 36.5, 38.1 and 36.6 (Ptrend = .01).

Conclusions

Statistically significant decreases in mean TV viewing between 2001 and 2012 were observed for preschoolers and children. However, a relatively large proportion of parents report their children watching 2 or more hours/day of TV.

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